November 14, 2003

Security Blankets and Greeting Cards

Simon has been asking a lot recently why people blog. Some people have political opionins to share, some want to keep up with their family. Others cater to specific groups-sports, Objectivism, religion, whatnot. And then there are some like mine-personal blogs.

I don't have masses of links in my posts-they're on my sidebar. I read them-maybe you'll want to check them out, too. If you have come here to talk about: sex, what it's like to be a stranger in a strange land, sex, how little Helen copes with the weird fuckwittage that is her life, or sex, then you have come to the right place.

The way I figure it is-I know my view on modern events and media, culture, religion and politics. I am happy to talk about them, but I don't see why debating it on my blog will change anything. Now, get us a bottle of single malt whiskey and a Friday evening chat, and I'm in. I started this blog in June 2003 at the urging of my stepfather (even though I skipped the whole chat room/ICQ emergence), who thought I was a decent writer with something to say. Mostly, he encouraged me to do it since in January of this year I had a breakdown and needed an outlet to let things out.

I found it.

Anyway, I have had a bit of a battle last night with Dear Mate about my site, since he wants me to clarify that I am not necessarily honest about all things here-I change some settings of situations and times of events in order to protect the real people in my life. He is right, and I should clarify that. Sorry. I am duly chastened.

But I never lie about my feelings here on my blog (although I do jealously protect the identities and specifics of those I talk about in my blog, since they are unwitting participants), nor in any of my correspondence with people that have mailed me. It's desperately ironic, since I never discuss my feelings in my real life. I just unleash them here. There is one, big, glaring lie here on my blog, and that is that my real name isn't Helen. I actually started to feel a bit bad about that, but a very kind e-mail from Rob said something which spoke to me:

"Your real name? It's Helen, isn't it?...And that's who you are. And that's your name. Helen. Right now, there's no more truth than that."

Thanks, Rob. That was what I needed.

My life is a train wreck, and I am often the hapless, drunkard conductor. There is always some crazy chaos going on in my life, but you know what? That's what makes life interesting. I can't imagine life any other way. I have a wild job, a whole lot of past, and a Scottish therapist that helps me get from point A to point B and actually talk about my feelings (I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the Scots are very, very cool).

It's the reason why, next week when Judgment Day comes, I cannot leave Sweden just now if I lose my job. I have a great therapist that I respect and trust. This is my chance to help myself. If I walk away from it, then I am condemning myself to a lifetime of only being able to express myself through written words, instead of reaching out to talk to someone. I will be a walking example of the misappropriation of human funds. The inability to be anyone or anything other than a nice, helpful stranger (albeit the Everyday kind).

Last night I went to bed early and lit a fire in the fireplace. It's called a "brass kemin" here in Sweden, and the American troopers may know it as a pot-bellied stove, although it's sqaure and with a glass front. Anyway, I went to bed alone, a fire roaring in the fireplace, and laid in the bed watching the orange-red flames lick the glass, the warmth creeping in under the duvet, snaking around my ankles, legs, stomach and breasts.

And yes-I did play with myself. Um...who wouldn't? And once I had finished, in the warm hazy afterglow of an excellent session of self-relations, swollen labia and sedated brain, I started thinking about my security blanket, which is as un-security blanketish as it gets.

I have a card that I bought at Target almost 5 years ago. A greeting card. Like my cell phone, lipstick, pocket rocket vibrator and American Express card, it is something I don't leave home without.

Almost 5 years ago, I was living in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had to go to Target for some detergent, some shampoo, and a few other odds and ends. I was extremely low, and very, very stressed and sad. I felt like life was pointless, horrible. My grandfather had just died. Kim was very ill. I was working 80 hour weeks and on business trips two to three weeks out of each month. I wandered around with a shopping basket on my arm and sadness on my face.

Something led me to the greeting card section, and there it was. A card. The card.

On the cover is the famous painting "The Lady of Shalotte" by J.W. Waterhouse, of the red-headed woman in a boat, heading off to her death. The cover says:

"Every passage has its beacon. Every shadow has its light. We must therefore keep watch, my friend, keep watch."
-Captain Brenner Tate.

And on the inside, in simple letters, it says: "Everything is going to be all right."

I remember holding the card in my shaking hands, tears beginning to run. I forgot everything else I was going to buy then. I just bought that card. And that card saved my life. I carried that card with me from then on. Everywhere. It was an omnipresent part of my briefcase. When it started to get tatty from too much movement, I put it in a plastic envelope.

I still walk around, with that card, in my briefcase. Some people have teddy bears. Some people have habits. Me? I have a security blanket in the form of a greeting card. Whenever I hear the words "Everything will be all right", I think of that card, and some part of my brain remembers the hard feel of the paper in my hands, the stress leaking through my brain, and I remember that the card found me in a moment that I can never live without now.

And so it was that I fell asleep watching the gorgeous flame in the fireplace, the ice a lacy pane on the window, desperate to press itself closer to try see the fire, with the thought running through my head: Everything will be all right. Everything will be all right. Everything will be all right...


PS-4 days to Judgment Day

PPS-anyone seen Luuk?

UPDATE: a meeting this afternoon with our management team at Company X resulted in thus: Judgement Day will be delayed, and will now possibly be next Thursday. This means 6 MORE DAYS. If anyone needs me, I will be drinking myself into a violent stupor tonight. I have rented "The Hulk" and "The Hours" (now there are two films you generally don't see in the same sentence). Yup, they ought to help further the depression.

Posted by Everydaystranger at November 14, 2003 08:51 AM | TrackBack

Thanks MiMo! Debra, huh? I would love to be as skinny as Debra Messing, in fact. Then I could eat all I wanted for a while...Hmmm...

Posted by: Helen at November 17, 2003 09:06 AM

We loves ya' write well, and whether it is truth or creatively enhanced, we all enjoy it. Dear Mate can bite my a** I personally think you look more like a Debra, but....IT ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT are Helen to us.....

Posted by: MiMo at November 16, 2003 09:57 PM

I love all you guys. Kaetchen, Rob, Gudy, Johnny Huh and Courtney, thanks for the more comments. I am a ocmments ho. I love them.

One correction, Courtney-Partner Unit has absolutely NO IDEA the blog exists, and never will. My two bestest friends, who on this blog are called Best Friend and Dear Mate, well, they both know about it. Weird but true.

And Jean-I also have a big framed print of the pic. I absolutely love it. However, Partner Unit hates it so it has been banned to the cellar... :(

Posted by: Helen at November 15, 2003 06:36 PM

Wow, Helen, I have a big framed print of that very painting! I'm so glad for you that you have the card and the reminder, the knowledge, that everything will be all right.

Oh. And phooey on what your name "really" is. Helen does nicely, IMHO. And so you've changed around some details? Why, you should be taken out and shot! Or is that, taken out for some shots? I get confused sometimes...

Posted by: jean at November 15, 2003 08:28 AM

H darling, let's you and me meet in the etherworld tonight and get shitfaced. I feel a large bottle of vodka calling my name. Feel like quaffing?

Just think of the stories we'd tell!

Posted by: Kaetchen at November 15, 2003 01:52 AM

No wonder you didn't want P.U. to you know about your blog. I'm sorry you guys argued about it. Mine hates blogs.

Posted by: Courtney at November 15, 2003 01:16 AM

That was absolutely and overwhelmingly beautiful.

And for what it's worth, I very much doubt that there are many bloggers out there who don't occasionally fudge the stories they write to protect the innocent or guilty as it were, to just make a better story, or for a myriad of other perfectly good reasons. Or, as someone once said: "There's three sides to every story - my side, your side, and the truth. And nobody's lying."

Posted by: Gudy at November 15, 2003 12:19 AM's Helen, right? ;-) We all know who you are. So, it's helen.

And I agree with Sarah. This is your place for you. And that's as important as any other outlet in your life.

Posted by: Rob at November 14, 2003 08:27 PM

Only if I get to send ones that include nipples, like Elaine's did on Seinfeld...

Happy Nipplemas!

Posted by: Kaetchen at November 14, 2003 07:41 PM

We should run a contest.. Christmas cards from your favorite female bloggers...

Posted by: pylorns at November 14, 2003 07:29 PM

Yeah christmas cards..

Posted by: pylorns at November 14, 2003 07:28 PM

The reasons for blogging are many and varied, yours are as good (and far, far better) as most of the others. I didn't start blogging to vent, I started because I've always got a lot on my mind and, occasionally, its funny or poignant.

Once, many months ago, I got an email from a reader saying something that I had written had really touched her and helped her through a tough time. That just about made my year.

Keep blogging because you've got important things to say and share and we all love to hear about the sex too!

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at November 14, 2003 07:28 PM

H--it's your site. Your rules. My attitude is that whatever you choose to tell us, there's a reason. Same with truth-telling from most people. If they choose to omit, there's a reason behind it, which is often more interesting that what was said in the *first* place.

Am I making sense? Maybe I should switch from the Jewish counselor to a Scot...

Posted by: Kaetchen at November 14, 2003 05:28 PM

that was lovely helen. i have a whole box of cards and letters i've received that make me feel good and when i need to smile i pull them out. and yes, everything will be alright...a very good thing to remember...funny how the universe provides you with just the message you need to hear.

Posted by: kat at November 14, 2003 04:38 PM

You guys are so lovely. I am feeling a bit down, I admit. You want to laugh? Go to Ilyka's site. Right now. I just did (whew...and it was good for me!)

And Sassy? Just had a long talk with him, think we have a way of working now that will work. I hope.

Courtney, Zeno, Margi and Tiffani-isn't it great to know that we are not alone?

Pylorns-er...what greeting cards? Hmmm...curious...

Posted by: Helen at November 14, 2003 04:12 PM

I kinda found my way here by accident but something about what you were saying struck a chord. It doesn't matter who or what you are elsewhere and it doesn't matter whether the details are absolute, what matters is that here and now you are you. This is a prism through which we can see into your world and share a little. I've only been here a while but you get me kid.


Posted by: zeno at November 14, 2003 03:57 PM

I think we must have been related in a past life. That's what I tell myself when I feel horrible. That's what I ask my men to tell me when I feel bad - that "everything will be all right." Somehow, just believing that in the end, everything will work out, helps each day pass. And you know what - sometimes it does work out. :)

Posted by: Courtney at November 14, 2003 03:40 PM

Speaking of greeting cards.. Will you take like emily and send holiday cards? hehe

Posted by: pylorns at November 14, 2003 03:19 PM

If Best Mate wants to clarify things, then he should open his own goddamn blog.

Harsh? Yes. But dude, it's your fucking blog. Yours. Not his. You're allowed to write about whatever you want in your space. Want to talk about that time the Chippendale dancers kidnapped you on their spaceship to Mars and fucked you in the ears? That's your right. It's your space. You can fudge up stories to make them better, change details to protect people, or write the glaring, blazing truth if you want. You can be boring, you can be salacious. It's your space.

I'm sorry, but that's one thing I'm pretty fierce about. If someone's gonna come in and try to get me to change what I write on MY SITE, I'm going stick a cactus up his ass. If it's that big a deal, then he can start his own and clarify whatever he wants. He can write whatever he wants on his effin space. This is your place and NO ONE should EVER make you feel like you should have to apologise about what YOU write in YOUR space. *ESPECIALLY* your best mate.

Posted by: Sassy McSmartpants at November 14, 2003 03:04 PM

That was beautiful. Raw and gorgeous. And as trite as it sounds, I swear that you will look back on this from the distance and safety of passed time -- it won't hurt as much. I promise.

Never let anyone tell you that you do not deserve exactly what it is you WANT. Even yourself.

Posted by: margi at November 14, 2003 02:59 PM


Everything WILL be all right.

Posted by: Tiffani at November 14, 2003 02:52 PM

I'm realizing I'm not actually all that fussy over what people blog about; I care about whether they write well. If you write well, I'm in, whether it's about politics or emotions or what the cat barfed up on the carpet today or how we all secretly loathe Peacock or--woops!

Posted by: ilyka at November 14, 2003 12:55 PM

Luuk will shortly be on his way to Don (soon as he sends me his addy). I wanted to get a picture of him with my cow (Luuk that is, Don better stay the hell away from my cow) but due to the family plague I wasn't able to drive out there like I wanted to. And unfortunately some commitments have cropped up for the weekend and I won't be able to get out there until next week. Not wanting to hold up his travels any longer I am sadly sending him on his way.

I'm gonna miss that little guy.


Posted by: Jim at November 14, 2003 12:29 PM

I'm glad you blog, cuz reading you makes me smile, as you can see below.

Posted by: James at November 14, 2003 10:34 AM


Posted by: James at November 14, 2003 10:32 AM
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